PADUCAH — "This is a real home. We've never lived in a real home."
The words of Lydon Road resident Linda Quintana paid homage to the new four-bedroom house that she and her family expect to move into this winter thanks to thousands of dollars in community donations and countless hours of volunteer labor.
"It's unbelievable," a teary-eyed Quintana said. "There's no way we can thank everybody that donated their time, their materials. There's no way that we can say thank you to them for how we feel. They didn't have to help; they just wanted to."
The Quintana family, including Linda, her husband, Henry, two children and one grandson, were living in two double-wide mobile homes at 1079 Lydon Road last spring when floodwater climbed to record levels and destroyed the home. Linda said that she had lived there for more than 20 years and that she and her family had lost everything.
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Linda suffers from health problems. Henry also has health issues and works two jobs to make ends meet. With no real chance to receive federal assistance or insurance money, the Quintanas were left in a tough spot until the community stepped in.
The Quintanas are now awaiting the completion of a new home. Crews started working in mid-September and expect to be finished by Valentine's Day. The new house will be significantly bigger than the old one and will be constructed 3 feet higher to add protection from flooding.
Butch Walker, coordinator of the Lone Oak Baptist Church Disaster Relief, arranged for the labor and materials to build the Quintana home. Walker works with a long-term recovery committee that the United Way of Paducah-McCracken County spearheaded in May. Linda said she is especially grateful to Walker for everything he has done for her and her family.
"I don't know what we'd do if someone hadn't connected us to him," she said.
Walker is completing repairs at six homes across the county. He said that the Quintana house is the only one he has worked on that needed to be fully rebuilt. He said that telling the family that his group was unable to help was not an option, and he set out to get the job done in any way possible.
"Helping the Quintana family is my way of giving God the glory for giving his life to save mine," Walker said.
To date, the Quintanas' home has received more than $22,000 in community donations.
Kyle Henderson, business manager for Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 184, and Mark Lawrence, union journeyman, have been working on the plumbing after hours for no cost. They said Paducah mechanical and utilities contractor Murtco provided all the tools and permitting for the plumbing.
"I'm just proud to lend a helping hand to people that need it," Henderson said. "Our organization has always been community-oriented."
Walker said that Trinity Holiness Church Pastor Aaron Burton and Peifer Construction obtained the footer and framing, and Lone Oak Baptist Disaster Relief provided volunteers to complete the wiring. Rodgers Sheet Metal and Phil Unruh Drywall of Murray installed the air conditioning and drywall at a reduced rate. The materials were bought at Myers Lumber in Mayfield and Lowe's, which provided them at a discounted rate.
Ashley Wright, United Way executive director, said the long-term recovery committee found out about the Quintanas through a hotline set up after the flood to field calls from people across the region who needed assistance with flood damage. She said they received calls from hundreds of people.